"To Helena, foster daughter, the incomparable and worthy soul."
Was Helena a favorite pet or beloved family member? This grave relief is unusual in size and specificity for one made for an animal, but the lack of human representation with the pet does make us wonder—maybe this was one special dog? The pup depicted is certainly well-nourished, appears to have had a litter in her lifetime, and has a face that says “I love you too, dear master!”
Villa educator Eric Bruehl relates ancient comedy to the human condition. Where there are laughs there are connections, explored on Getty Voices.
Gravestone of Helena, Roman, about A.D. 150–200. Marble. The J. Paul Getty Museum